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SAL girls soccer: Coyotes, Hawks looking to progress
Denair soccer
Look for Denairs Abi Dirkse to have a great season for the Coyotes this upcoming season. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

It is the final year for a spring time season for girls soccer and Delhi and Denair High are ready to compete in the always entertaining Southern Athletic League.

Delhi comes of a progressive year while Denair welcomes a new head coach in Cherie Gresham, who has experience in coaching and playing at the collegiate level.

The once Stan State girls soccer player grew up in Manteca and graduated from Sierra High before receiving a scholarship to play at Stanislaus State.

“I actually just started here as the school counselor and the coach from last year decided not to come back and I have a background in coaching and playing, so I said why not,” said Gresham. “I love it; it's my passion now that I can’t play it anymore, so that is why I decided to coach.”

Gresham takes over a team that went winless a year ago, 0-16-2, including a league record of 0-12-2.

“From what I have heard, in the past it has not been a strong program so I would like to build some kind of foundation and to experience what soccer is about,” said Gresham. “Bringing down the fundamentals and helping them always see from the first game to the last that they can improve.”

Abi Dirkse is expected to be one of the team’s standout players for the upcoming year and also look for Litzy DelaCruz and Janet Garcia to help a Coyotes team that is hopeful to compete in the SAL.

Ripon Christian and Mariposa County each had 10-plus wins in league a year ago and should be some of the toughest opponents for the Coyotes and also the Hawks of Delhi.

The Hawks went 4-9-1 a year ago in the SAL, which was second to last behind Denair.

Unfortunately for head coach Armando Salazar, the season did not fare well for them and now he is back but with perhaps one of the most inexperienced teams he has ever had.

“This year we have a lot of beginners,” said Salazar, “a lot of freshmen...I do have a few strong players but they are strong individually and it's going to be a challenge to make them work together."

The senior returners include Sienna Rodriguez, Favi Hernandez and Diana Cervantez, but look for freshman Emily Salazar to make some waves as she has an extensive background with travel ball.

Delhi's next game will be against Lathrop at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

Denair's first game will be against Drew High at 3:30 p.m. Friday.